The Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) shipped the last of the accumulated outdated pesticides last week. This was part of a total stock of 2,600tns identified as being located throughout the country since 2000.
The shipment of the pesticide stockpile took place in three phases, with a total budget of 12 million dollars, to destinations in Sweden,Finland,Germany,France and England.
The last phase, of which this latest shipment is a part, was financed by a 2.62 million Br grant from the World Bank (WB). Only 450 tonnes of the total stockpile was left; 300 were exported toSweden two months ago. The remaining 150 tonnes, destined to France and Sweden, arrived in Djiboution Wednesday April 24, 2013.
The technical, financial and institutional capabilities of national institutions in Ethiopia to take safeguarding measures and dispose of stockpiles of outdated pesticides has been weak, according to Shimeles Hassen, Africa Stockpiles Programme (ASP) coordinator at MoA. This led to various stocks of banned and unwanted pesticides accumulating all over the country, creating hot spots with significant environmental and public health risks, sometimes in the heart of densely populated urban areas such as in Addis Abeba.
"Most of the obsolete pesticides were kept in sub-standard storage facilities, some of which lacked impermeable floors and had poor ventilation," Shimeles told Fortune. "At some locations, containers were stored in the open, exposed to direct sunlight, wind and rain, while many stores were accessible to unauthorized persons."
The absence of appropriate facilities, combined with lack of funds for proper storage and maintenance of stocks, continued to lead to increased accumulation without any action being taken until 1996, he explained.
MoA attributes the problem partly to the lack of appropriate government policies supporting or enhancing the use of alternative methods of pesticide control such as biological.
Based on inventories that became available in 1997, and on the findings of an international task force mission in 1998, Ethiopia was identified as having the largest documented accumulation in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than 2,900 tonnes of over 200 different types of obsolete, banned and unwanted pesticides in 402 stores and an estimated 500 tonnes of heavily contaminated soil in 256 locations throughout the country.
In 1998, the government invited donor interest in a concerted program to rid the country of its large stock of obsolete pesticides and heavily contaminated soil.
The costs to dispose of the provisionally identified 1,500 tonnes of stocks, including the most heavily contaminated soil, were, at that time, estimated at approximately 4.6 million dollars.
"Empty pesticide drums and containers are highly valued in both rural and urban areas and are commonly used for domestic purpose, hence contingency plans to dispose of pesticides containers will have to be developed and wide spread awareness of the danger and implications of the use of pesticides and containers should be undertaken," says Shimeles.